I congratulate Karl Turner on securing this debate, and on the passion with which he delivered the speech and his enthusiasm for that national dish he mentioned.
The trawlermen of coastal communities around the UK make an invaluable contribution to our economy and to keeping our nation fed, but while we enjoy eating our fish in the warmth and comfort of our homes and restaurants, it is easy to forget the skill and the courage of the trawlermen who landed the catch. The coastal waters of the UK are hazardous, weather conditions and sea states can change quickly, and it takes a special person to work, day in and day out, in conditions that include high winds, towering waves, lashing rain and freezing temperatures.
These hazards were brought home to us all too tragically in my constituency in January when the fishing vessel Nicola Faith, sailing from Conwy harbour, went missing with all hands. An exhaustive search and rescue operation was launched, including shore-based coastguard teams and Royal National Lifeboat Institution crews from Conwy, Llandudno, Beaumaris, Rhyl and Hoylake, but to no avail. It would be two months before the bodies of skipper Carl McGrath and crew members Ross Ballantine and Alan Minard were eventually found off the Wirral and Blackpool. The vessel’s empty life raft had been recovered off the coast of Scotland a few days earlier, and the wreck was eventually recovered in May. We all now await the marine accident investigation branch’s report into these tragic events. I recite this as the plain record of tragic events, but the reality is a devastating loss for the families and loved ones of these young men.